Blog Posts by Julia Kilpatrick
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“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness.” Though originally written as a social criticism of the period leading up to the French Revolution, Charles Dickens’ words seem an equally appropriate characterization of the past year for energy and environment issues in Canada.
In a meeting last April with the Senate Standing Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources, then-environment minister Jim Prentice said: "in terms of reducing our emissions of greenhouse gas as well as other pollutants, the more natural gas we can bring on in this country, the more desirable it is."
But a new report released today by the Pembina Institute and the David Suzuki Foundation challenges that assumption.
Cancelling the Green Energy Act would have little effect on Ontario electricity prices: author of new report explains results
Ontario's electricity prices have become a hot-button issue recently.
But in spite of the increased focus on Ontario's electricity system, and in particular the Green Energy Act, there has been little information about how replacing the Act would affect electricity prices in the future.
"Is Canada doing enough to ensure a sustainable energy future?"
That was the question of the day on a recent edition of CBC Power and Politics, which featured a town hall discussion on Canada's energy policy. The Pembina Institute's Clare Demerse was part of that discussion, and in this video she explains how the transition toward a more sustainable energy future could benefit Canadians across the country.
Editor's note: The following blog post is part of a series written during a conference on carbon pricing held at Wesleyan University in Connecticut late last year.
When James Hansen says there's a "silver bullet" in the fight against climate change, I'm inclined to keep listening.
The author, professor and NASA climatologist is world-renowned for both his scientific expertise and his outspoken views on the need for world governments — particularly his own — to take strong and swift action to deal with climate change by curbing fossil fuel use. He's also well aware of the economic forces driving nations to develop their natural resources.
"You can't force other countries not to develop their [fossil fuel] resources," Hansen said late last year, during his keynote address at a weekend conference at Wesleyan University in Connecticut. "The only silver bullet is a price on carbon."
Editor's note: The following blog post is one of a series written during a conference on carbon pricing held at Wesleyan University in Connecticut late last year. Over the coming weeks, we'll be posting a collection of blogs and videos from that conference.
Bill McKibben, one of America's best-known climate advocates, stands at the front of a jam-packed lecture hall at a Connecticut university. Behind him, the image of a girl looms large on a screen. She's young, maybe three or four, holding a small plant in a large pot, and staring down the world.
The child is planting the fragile green shoot as a symbolic action in the fight against climate change. The irony is, the plant may never have a chance to grow to maturity in its native soil — and neither may the girl, whose homeland, the small island nation known as the Maldives, is quickly disappearing into the sea as a result of climate change.
After five years working full-time on oilsands issues, Simon Dyer is ready for a change. Moving from his role as director of the oilsands program to a position focusing on Pembina's overall policy work, he's leaving behind the marathon of media interviews, legal hearings, research and meetings, and passing the baton to Pembina's Jennifer Grant.
I sat down with Simon and Jennifer recently to talk about lessons learned, opportunities for change and why the fight to improve environmental management in the oilsands is worth the trouble.
At first glance, François Paulette, George Poitras and Marty Cobenais may not appear to have that much in common. They speak different languages, and were raised with distinct customs and values. But as aboriginal leaders, they share a common burden that has led them to Washington, D.C., to meet with U.S. officials, whose decisions could have a profound effect on the wellbeing of their communities.
There's good news and there's bad news behind the federal government's recently announced plan to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from new personal vehicles.
The good news is that these regulations represent a step toward addressing a key source of Canada's climate change pollution, since about 12 per cent of national GHG emissions come from personal vehicles. The bad news is, there appear to be enough loopholes in the regulations to prevent them from making much of a difference.
A rigorous scientific inquiry conducted by an international panel of experts has reaffirmed the integrity of climate science conducted by the CRU, the small research group at the centre of the stolen emails controversy. The review was led by Lord Oxburgh, the former chair of the UK House of Lords science and technology select committee, and panel members were recommended by the Royal Society (the UK's national academy of science). The review concluded:
"We saw no evidence of any deliberate scientific malpractice in any of the work of the Climatic Research Unit and had it been there we believe that it is likely that we would have detected it. Rather we found a small group of dedicated if slightly disorganised researchers who were ill-prepared for being the focus of public attention."
In response to a recent article in the New York Times, Robert Stavins, an expert in environmental economics from Harvard University, looks at how cap-and-trade became a lightning rod for any and all opposition to taking action on climate change in the U.S.
Canada's performance at the recent UN climate conference in Copenhagen came under scrutiny again this week, after an internal Chinese government report was leaked to British newspaper The Guardian. The report said Canada played a "conniving" role in trying to convince other countries that its level of ambition on climate change would be adequate, and claimed the US-led "umbrella group" of nations - of which Canada is a member - adopted a "position of inaction" at the international climate negotiations. As Mike de Souza reports for Canwest, federal Environment Minister Jim Prentice rejected those allegations, stating, "We were not conniving," and pointing at China's reluctance to allow international monitoring of its own progress on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
But the Chinese government isn't alone in thinking less of Canada in the wake of the U.N. climate summit.
The top climate story this week started with a speech Environment Minister Jim Prentice delivered in Calgary on Monday. In it, he presents a bundle of mixed messages - identifying the oilsands as a public relations problem while calling on the oil industry to clean up its act, and labelling Quebec's new regulations on vehicle emissions standards "one of the most glaring examples of the folly of attempting to go it alone," while ignoring similar measures already adopted or under consideration in many other regions. (Ironically, as Mike de Souza points out, draft legislation indicates that the federal government is planning to implement similar vehicle emissions standards by summer.)
This week's top climate stories focus on what the next steps should be as Canada and the world move forward to address climate change.
Speaking in Davos, Switzerland on Thursday, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper laid out a G8 and G20 agenda for this summer's summits that places little emphasis on climate change. At a round-table discussion later in the day, other world leaders criticized Harper for comments that justified delaying action on climate change for economic reasons, the CBC reports.
The spotlight was on the U.S. in this week's climate news, with the surprise election of Republican Senator Scott Brown in Massachusetts on Tuesday. Brown's win stripped the Democrats of the 60-seat "super majority" in the Senate, and sparked widespread speculation about how the power shift could affect the success or failure of climate legislation in the U.S. - and, ultimately, here in Canada.
Business leaders in the U.S. responded to those concerns with a call to action. On Thursday, the CEOs of more than 80 prominent American companies - including Exelon, Virgin America, NRG Energy, eBay and PG&E - released an open letter calling on President Obama and members of Congress to "move quickly to enact comprehensive climate and energy legislation that will create jobs and enhance U.S. competitiveness."
Yet while the headlines point to these dramatic examples of the need for leadership at home and cooperation abroad, the discussion of how to effectively address climate change continues.
Each week, we'll bring you a roundup of the top climate stories and most compelling commentary. Think we missed something? Share links to other stories, and weigh in with your perspective in our comments section.
In the most comprehensive scientific review to date, an international panel of doctors, scientists and environmental experts have concluded that the noise and vibrations from wind farms do not pose a risk to human health.
Earlier today, Matthew Bramley, director of Pembina's Climate Change Program, and other members of Climate Action Network spoke with reporters at a news conference in Copenhagen to explain the significance of the climate policies outlined in leaked federal documents.
Watch the video here.
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